NEW: President Obama meets with National Security Council over ISIS strategy
Turkey deploys troops along its border with Syria as lawmakers debate intervention
British planes strike two ISIS targets in northwestern Iraq
ISIS closing in on the Kobani area of Syria
Turkish soldiers and tanks took up position along the border with Syria on Tuesday as its government debated whether to deploy troops to battle the Islamic State terror group, a move that comes as tens of thousands pour into the country to escape ISIS fighters.
The flood of refugees from Syria has escalated – with 150,000 people fleeing to Turkey in recent days – as ISIS fighters armed with tanks and heavy weapons advance on the predominantly Kurdish town of Kobani, known in Arabic as Ayn al Arab, destroying villages in their path.
ISIS fighters were just three kilometers (nearly two miles) east of the northern Syria town late Monday, a civilian in Kobani told CNN on condition of anonymity. CNN cannot independently confirm the claim, though it matches reports released by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group.
U.S. airstrikes overnight targeted ISIS positions near Kobani, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, spokesman for the Pentagon.
It was unclear whether the strikes stopped the ISIS advance, and Kirby provided only cursory details about what they targeted and what damage may have resulted.
When asked why airstrikes in the Kobani area appear to be limited, a senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a lack of direct, reliable intelligence on the ground and the need to be precise to avoid civilian casualties were among the factors.
Turkey considers going after ISIS
If ISIS takes Kobani, it would control a complete swath of land from its self-declared capital of Raqqa to the Turkish border, more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) away. It has been fighting for months, capturing portions of northern and eastern Syria and western and northern Iraq for what it says is its new Islamic state – or caliphate.
The Turkish Parliament on Tuesday took up the issue whether to send troops into Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS. The debate was expected to continue into the latter part of the week before lawmakers voted, according to Anadolu, Turkey’s semi-official news agency.
Turkey has said it is offering support to a U.S.-led coalition targeting ISIS, but has stopped short of joining the 40-some countries who make up the coalition.
But with more than 150,000 refugees pouring into the country since last week, adding to the hundreds of thousands who have already fled the Syrian civil war, and concerns about ISIS controlling border points, Turkish lawmakers are taking up the issue.
Obama assesses ISIS strategy
At the same time, U.S. President Barack Obama met with his National Security Council to discuss what White House officials described as a comprehensive strategy to counter the threat